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Explore Bulgaria and Turkey – the “bridge between East and West”!

Route: Sofia, Plovdiv, Kardzhali, Edirne, Chanakale, Istanbul, Burgas, Veliko Turnovo, Sofia
Transport: Coach
Countries: Bulgaria, Turkey
Price from: T/A

This program offers a great opportunity for those who want to explore the very “bridge between East and West””- two countries whose key geographic location was crucial for the mesmerizing cultural and historical diversity they reveal to us today!
From wild, wooded mountain ranges speckled with remote villages and enchanting monasteries to vibrant modern cities and long sandy beaches hugging the Black Sea coast, Bulgaria rewards exploration. On our trip we will visit some of the country’s most remarkable highlights – The ancient city of Plovdiv, the vibrant capital  city Sofia, the charming coastal city of Burgas as well as the enchanting Medieval capital of Bulgaria – Veliko Turnovo. We will travel through the fertile Thracian Valley in Central Bulgaria and discover the Bachkovo Monastery – an impressive religious sanctuary nested in the heart of the Rhodope Mountain dubbed as the birthplace of the Greek singer Orpheus.
Then we will dive into the mesmerizing mix of the exotic and the familiar Turkey has to offer. Invaded and settled from every direction since the start of recorded history, it combines influences from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Central Asia. Mosques coexist with churches, Roman theatres and temples crumble near ancient Hittite cities, and dervish ceremonies and gypsy festivals are as much a part of the social landscape as classical music concerts or football matches. Among the places we will visit on the tour are the legendary ancient city of Troy, the cosmopolitan Buras and the unique Istanbul. We will also pamper ourselves the traditional way with a Turksih bath and attend a belly dancing show. The friendliness, warmth and generosity of the Turkish people makes visiting each place a pleasure and you will certainly find yourself making friends through the simplest of transactions.

Day-to-day Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Bulgaria – Sofia, Blagoevgrad!
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival and escort you to the hotel. Then it will be just the right time to start creating memories! After a short sightseeing tour during which we will be able to get our first impressions from the colourful city of Sofia , we will head south towards the town of Blagoevgrad, nested at the foot of the mighty Rila Mountain. En route we will make a stop to pay special attention to one of the holiest Bulgarian religious sights – the Rila Monastery. A true architectural masterpiece of its time, the sanctuary survived the turbulent times in the country’s history to fascinate us today with the extraordinary works by some of the most renowned Bulgarian artists, the pure and harmonious line of the buildings' exquisite colonnades, the colorful arches richly decorated with murals and fretwork. In the evening we will invite you to a welcome dinner during which you will be able to get to know your fellow travellers who will share the amazing experience with us.
Overnight in Blagoevgrad. (L, D)

Day 2: Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv
Today we will head west towards the city of Plovdiv situated in the heart of the fertile Thracian valley in South Bulgaria. The Old Town “ Timontium”  is among the most magnificent places in Bulgaria and is famous for its  spectacular  Roman Theatre, the multitude of tiny art galleries, churches and authentic cobbled streets lined with Revival period houses most of which open for public. A true journey through the centuries! In the afternoon we will take a short and scenic trip to the Batchkovo Monastery - the second in size and importance monastery in Bulgaria founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and impressive with its picturesque location and extensive icon collections. The afternoon will be at everyone’s disposal to explore the Old Quarter, the main shopping street and the hills of Plovdiv on their own.
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Plovdiv, Kardzhali
We will start the day with a trip to the ancient city of Perperikon situated near the town of Kardzhali. Perched on a high plateau in the Eastern part of the Rhodope Mountain the extraordinary archaeological complex provides information regarding several eras and civilizations since according to the historians it served as a stone sanctuary of Dionysus, a god that both Thracians and Greeks revered. Next on our agenda for today is the Thracian sanctuary near the village of Tatu , one of the most imposing megalithic monuments discovered on the territory of Bulgaria. The complex comprises of two sarcophagi, a rectangular bed for the main altar, and a three-meter-deep well and dates back to the end of the 5th century BC. In the late afternoon we will visit the Regional History Museum in the nearby town of Kardzhali housed in a magnificent building which is a wonderful example of early 20th century architecture and houses a myriad of exciting artefacts connected to the culture and history of the ancient Kardzhali area.
Overnight in Kardzhali. (B, L, D)

Day 4:  Kardzhali, crossing the Bulgarian- Turkish border, Chanakkale
After breakfast we will head south-east and cross the Bulgarian – Turkish border. On our way to Chanakkale we will stop to explore Edirne. The town boasts impressive architectural treasures among which the grand mosque Selimiye built by the renowned architect Sinan in the 16th-century and considered by some the finest of its kind in Turkey. We will also visit  the Health Museum in the Sultan Bayazid II Complex, the Thracian city formerly known as Adrianople, the Capali Charshi.( A splendid covered market).  In the afternoon we will head to Chanakkale situated on the Asian coast of the Dardanelles. 
* During the last week of June and the beginning of July an attractive event takes place in Edirne – the Oil wrestling tournament. This is a unique competition which has old traditions in the region and has been performed as a test for the strength of the Ottoman soldiers since ancient times.  It is an incredible highlight of Edirne in the early summer.
Overnight in Chanakkale. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Chanakkale, Balikshehir, Bursa 
Today we will travel south to visit the legendary ancient city of Troy, which we will take time to explore. With its 4,000 years of history, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The first excavations at the site were undertaken by the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. In scientific terms, its extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece in the 13th or 12th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in the Iliad, has inspired great creative artists throughout the world ever since. We will arrive in Bursa in the late afternoon. TAs a thriving big city Bursa may seem at first glance like a purely modern metropolis. In fact, as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire (during the 14th century), the city can be considered the birthplace of modern Turkish culture. Its innumerable ancient buildings, including those of the old spa suburb of Çekirge, a centuries-old tourist draw, are a reminder of Bursa’s weighty past. Here we will not miss to indulge in a typically Turkish experience – the Turkish bath!
Overnight in Bursa. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Bursa, Istanbul 
We will dedicate our morning to Bursa and its hidden charms. The first capital of the Ottoman Empire has a lot to offer to its visitors: the Ulu Camii, the Green Tomb, the Green Mausoleum (Yeshil Turbe), the Koza Hani – the inn used to be the final stop on the Silk Road from China.
Afterwards we will head to Istanbul where we are going to spend the next days. On our way we will make a lunch stop in Yalova and take time to walk around the famous SPA and thermal resort. Then we will take the ferry from Yalova to Istanbul (40 min). In the early afternoon we will arrive in the Asian part of Istanbul from where we will start our Panoramic tour of the city. This fascinating multinational city stretching along the shores of the Marmara Sea, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, has been the seat of two empires and the centre of art and science for several hundred years and today is the biggest and most populated city in Turkey. Here we will stop to visit the St. Stefan Church also known as the Bulgarian iron-built church. A walk along the sea side promenade and a dinner in one of the famous fish restaurants on the Bosphorus will be our pleasures at the end of this wonderful day!
Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Istanbul
Today we will have the opportunity to feel the authentic spirit of Istanbul. In the morning we will take a walk around the city’s historical centre and visit the Sultan Ahmet Camisi (the Blue Mosque), the Hippodrome, the Egyptian Obelisk, the Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace) and the Aya Sofya Church (Hagia Sophia Church). In the afternoon we will spare some time for shopping in the famous Grand Bazaar /Capali Carsi / – approximately 5000 stores spread out in a giant labyrinth of small streets and passages. It was built in 1660 by Hatice Sultan with themoney form the taxes collected from Cairo for the trade with Egyptian commodities, especially herbs and spices.
Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Istanbul
we will start the day with a scenic boat cruise along the Bosphorus (lasts about 3 hours). Then we will visit of the Beylerleyi Palace and the Kiz Kulesi - one of the most romantic symbols of Istanbul. The Maiden's Tower is situated on a tiny island at the entrance of the Istanbul’s harbour. The 18th century tower is wrapped up in mystery and legends. Afterwards we will visit  the Dolmabahche Palace which  served as the official residence of the sultans since  1876. In the evening we will enjoy a dinner accompanied by a Belly dance show program featuring traditional Turkish music and folklore dances, as well as a traditional orchestra.
Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L, D)

Day 9: Istanbul, Bourgas
The morning will be at everyone’s disposal to enjoy and spend as they like in the heart of Istanbul.  Then at noon, it will be time for us to depart from this wonderful city and head north to cross the Turkish- Bulgarian Border. In the evening we will arrive in coastal city of Burgas on the Bulgarian South Black sea coast.
Overnight in Burgas. (B, L, D)

Day 10: Bourgas, Veliko Tarnovo
Bourges is a charming coastal city that gave birth to many renowned Bulgarian musicians, poets and singers. It is an artistic city that has a special authentic atmosphere and laid back beach culture. After breakfast we will have a short sightseeing tour in the centre where we will learn more about the Bourgas Archaeological Museum, the City Clock Tower, the Armenian Church, the “Sveti Kiril i Metodi” Cathedral, the Aleksandrovska shopping street and the Sea Garden Park. After lunch we will drive to the interior through some picturesque Bulgarian villages. We will visit the architectural museum towns of  Zheravna and Kotel and experience the living traditions in these little mountainous towns. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Veliko Turnovo – the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396). Tonight we will enjoy a spectacular event that takes place on the ancient Zarevetz Hill – a Light & Music Show that fascinates and reminds of the heroic past of the city!
Overnight in Veliko Turnovo. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Veliko Tarnovo
After breakfast we will stroll through the centuries-old streets of Veliko Turnovo and take time to have a cup of  coffee at one of the authentic coffee houses in the preserved Medieval market street of the city – the Samovodska tcharshia.
For lunch today we will invite you to taste some of the best Bulgarian wines in Lyaskovets Wine Cellar in the town of Lyaskovets, situated within an hour drive from Veliko Turnovo. The afternoon will be at our disposal to enjoy the sights Veliko Turnovo has to offer – the historical Trapezitsa Hill, the Baldwin's Tower and the notorious „execution rock", the Holy Ascension patriarchal church, the Sarafkina House, the churches Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the St. Spas and Sts. Constantine and Helena, the Konak, the former town hall of the Ottoman administration (now housing the National Revival and Constituent Assembly exposition), the House with the Monkey.
Overnight in Veliko Turnovo. (B, L, D)

Day 12: Trip finishes in Sofia 
Today after breakfast, we will head back to Sofia where it will be time for us to say “goodbye” with the promise to keep the memories we created together during our Balkan Adventure! (Transfer to the Airport).(B) 

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • The Bulgarian capital city Sofia - a blend of ancient archaeological monuments and modern-day landmarks!
  • The legendary ancient city of Troy!
  • The cosmopolitan city of Bursa – the first capital of the Ottoman Empire!
  • The unique city on two continents – Istanbul!
  • The charming coastal town of Burgas and its artistic atmosphere!
  • The ancient ruins of the Thracian city of Perperikon and the mystic Cult complex of Tatul!
  • Veliko Turnovo - the enchanting Medieval capital of Bulgraia!

Route

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What Is Included

  • 13 days / 12 overnights
  • Countries visited: Bulgaria & Turkey
  • Tour starts: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Tour finishes: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 12 breakfasts (B), 11 Lunches (L), 11 dinners (D)
  • 13 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
  • Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
  • Group Size: T/A
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